EPA gives 1st greenhouse gas permit to Texas plant

Associated Press Modified: November 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm •  Published: November 10, 2011

HOUSTON (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday awarded a greenhouse gas permit to a Texas plant, the first the federal agency has issued since taking over the Lone Star State's permitting program in January.

The EPA's move is part of an ongoing battle with Texas over environmental regulation, and indicates the agency will move ahead with its plan to conduct business as usual in Texas even if the state refuses to cooperate.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state agency that should be responsible for issuing such permits, said it was pleased the Lower Colorado River Authority's would now be able to move forward.

But "we see no need for — or any environmental benefit from — EPA's greenhouse gas permit," said Andy Saenz, a TCEQ spokesman. "The TCEQ authorized the project on Sept. 1, 2011 after careful review that determined the permit was protective of the environment and fully compliant with all state environmental regulations."

The EPA took over the state's greenhouse gas permitting program after Texas refused to comply with new regulations designed to decrease air pollution believed to contribute to climate change. Texas, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and industrial pollution in the nation, was the only state that refused to comply, arguing among other things that the regulations would be too costly for businesses in a weak economy.